Rent or buy? The pros of leasing rather than owning a home

The curveballs 2020 has thrown at us are many – adapting to a new normal without our daily commute or water-cooler talk at the office, and getting used to staycations rather than far-flung holidays. While many of the changes have been pretty cumbersome, plenty of us have been lucky to appreciate more freedom and flexibility than ever before.

Since the first Covid shutdowns in Australia, almost 50 per cent of workers have been given a taster of working from home long-term and, subsequently, many have opted to leave fast-paced cities behind in exchange for a slower pace of life in coastal towns such as Byron Bay and Brunswick Heads.

Previously, homeownership was seen as the holy grail of adulthood but our priorities have shifted in the wake of the shutdowns. Renters are now recognising a plethora of positives in being a tenant rather than an owner. Indeed, many of those who belong to ‘Generation Rent’ – adults between the ages of 18 and 40, who’ve often been priced out of the housing market – are finding themselves at an advantage over homeowners. From the increase in vacancy rates (the percentage of available properties not yet leased) to a sharp decline in both rental prices and demand, there’s never been a better time to shelve your dreams of owning a home.

From new-found freedom and flexibility to no nasty financial surprises, here’s why renting is fast becoming a lifestyle choice.

Greater freedom

While this certainly isn’t a year many of us will associate with choice and autonomy, there’s been a massive increase in workers fleeing urban areas for their rural counterparts. If you’re renting in a metropolitan city, upping sticks can be a fairly straightforward practice – giving notice on your lease and finding somewhere new to live. Homeowners, on the other hand, are tasked with the near-impossible feat of trying to sell their home in what’s very much been cited as a renter’s market.

Less risk

Renters have been sold the myth that buying a home is the best investment they can make. Not necessarily so. There’s always the risk with buying a property that it will lose value, meaning you could end up in negative equity, at which point homeownership begins to look a lot less appealing to Generation Rent.

Substantially lower costs

Furnishing a rented property is by no means cheap, but suffice it to say it pales in comparison to the upfront costs associated with buying a home. From stamp duty and legal fees, to mortgage registration fees and beyond, there’s a huge sum of money involved in purchasing a property – and that’s before you even start making a dent in your mortgage.

No need to sweat the small stuff

One of the key benefits about renting, is not having to deal with physical practicalities, the trials and tribulations, of home ownership. Got a dodgy door or a boiler that’s given up the ghost? A quick call to your landlord is usually the extent of your involvement.

Try before you buy

Keen to try a new area but not sure if you’ll love it long-term? Renting is the perfect way to try it out before you commit to buying. Many homeowners make the mistake of purchasing a property in an neighbourhood they think they know, only to discover further down the line that on-street parking is a nightmare at weekends, or the uphill walk back from the beach is considerably steeper than they’d anticipated!

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